As a regular at 33 Wine Bar over the last few years, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the fine people who have worked there. One of those fine people will soon be the new head brewer of The Civil Life Brewing Company.
Dylan Mosley had the job of picking beers to bring into 33 and soon he’ll have the job of designing beers to be brewed at Civil Life. Dylan was kind enough to answer a few questions about finding their identity and what beer is in his fridge.
STL Hops: With three breweries opening in 2011 and fourteen currently within an hour’s drive of St. Louis, how do you differentiate yourself from everyone else?
Dylan Mosley: Breweries, Pubs, Taverns, Drinking Halls, whatever you’ve got… always reflect the heart and soul of any community. The building we purchased is in Tower Grove South, Oak Hill to be exact, and our first goal is to become a vital part of this neighborhood. We’re going to focus our efforts on session beers, supporting local restaurants and bars, and beer education. I’d like to think that the last point, Beer Education, is where we’ll try and make a definitive mark. Beer is booming right now and its a great time to get people educated about the importance of beer, how its made, who farmed the ingredients, and how they can make beer too.
We’ve worked on the bar side of things for quite a while too and we want to share our experiences to help other Bar and Restaurant Owners and Employees make their establishments more beer friendly and successful. This is a person to person type of business and naturally our own experiences will differentiate us from the start.
STLH: We talked briefly at one point about finding your identity, could elaborate more on this?
DM: I also often need help finding my cell phone… Luckily, The spirit of The Civil Life is already there. Its all the people that we’ve come to trust over the years and helped us this far. We’re just taking that spirit and squeezing beer out of it. There really isn’t a type of beer that’s off our radar, we just want to make sure (through our tasting room) that we’ve hashed it out enough to recognize it as ‘ours’. Jake, Superman (yes, another un-named Civil Lifer!), and I all need to like it enough to drown in a vat of it ala’ Strange Brew.
As a brewer at The Civil Life my identity is pretty concrete: be friends with my little yeast friends and put the hurt on everything else. On a personal note, I’d love to get more Brown beer out there – it just screams Midwest….
STLH: Are you concerned or scared off by brewing styles that other local breweries are already brewing?
DM: Concerned? No. Scared off? Nope. I think you just have to go after the tastes you relate to. ‘Local’ beer isn’t a benchmark for us and really shouldn’t be for any brewer. When you just look down the street you could miss something really important elsewhere.
STLH: Is there any concern about this sudden boom of breweries? Is St. Louis ready for it?
DM: It seems sudden I suppose, but this was a long time coming. There are some issues surrounding management of fresh beer, but ultimately I think the benefits of having more craft beer here outweigh the deficits. The problem beer has is that it doesn’t wear its age like a banana so brewers need to work hand in hand with their distributors and retailers to make sure their product is well cared for. Thats a big disadvantage if you are out of state! Not to mention brewers overseas! As I’ve read on the website, a lot of STLHoppers have a perspective on this and one that stands to reason is that not all beer will survive our market. That’s ok. I’m a bit of a regionalist, but we need beer from other states and parts of the world to put what we make in perspective.
STLH: While we’ve already gotten a bit of a look at what may be in store for Civil Life (an American brown ale, a rye pale ale and a British-style extra special bitter), I think that knowing what a brewer drinks gives a bit more insight into what they may brew. What beers have currently been in and out of your fridge?
DM: A quick search of my recycling bin points to Schalfly Oatmeal Stout, Avery Ellie’s Brown, and O’Douls! (we’ve got a 8 month old!) I drank O’Fallon 5 Day at the Bleeding Deacon. The last beers at ’33’ were Scrimshaw Pils and Struisse Black Mes. Out of brite tanks were 2nd Shift WheatFreak and UCBC’s Hopfen. Right now? Home Brewed Rye Pale.
STLH: Sometimes it’s difficult to see it as you’re still building the brewhouse, but what do you think the next 5 years will look like at Civil Life and in the St. Louis beer scene?
DM: I just don’t see either faltering. We’ve got so much energy in this thing already that I might pop. And I’m thinking about the Missouri beer scene at large right now; not just St. Louis as a stand-alone market. People like good food everywhere, you just have to bring it. I’m hoping that other entrepreneurs get involved for the right reasons and not just riding a wave. This boom has more to do with an earnest “this tastes good!” than “I saw this commercial with a dog in it and he said to drink this”. Beer is grassroots. I think the breweries already here get that – especially since they did the hard part! I’d love to see twice the breweries we have now open in the next 4 years and I don’t ever want to see “Schlafly” listed under “Imports” ever again.